Apr 18 2012

Crazy, stupid shoes

My husband likes to tease me about what he calls my “shoe ideology” (by which he means I have serious and uncompromising “attitude”). And although my essay in the book mostly riffs on my relationship with my hands, towards the end I confess that:

Notwithstanding my own inability to walk a block in high heels, I also feel great about my feet.

You might not, if they were yours. I have—as my mother informed me at an impressionable age—my grandmother’s bunions. This unasked-for paternal inheritance prevents me from performing a number of yoga poses, dancing Swan Lake with the National Ballet, and wearing what a former colleague used to call “fuck me” shoes.

But I’m good with that. I think stilettos are torture chambers invented by men who feel bad about women.

I wasn’t explicitly referring to Christian Louboutin, about whom I knew nothing three years ago, but I could have been. Today’s Telegraph ran an article quoting the designer cavalierly dismissing the pain women experience when wearing his ludicrous creations. But his admonishment –

“If you can’t walk in them, don’t wear them.”

…is good advice that I wish more women would act on. Doing so would not only save them from debilitating pain and a significantly increased likelihood of broken limbs, but more importantly, it would deprive M. Louboutin of a livelihood made at the expense of women’s autonomy and ability to be taken seriously as intelligent human beings. (You see, he’s right, my husband: I do have major attitude.)

A few years ago researching In Your Face – The Culture of Beauty and You, my book for teens, I came across a story in the New York Times about a misguided woman who had had a toe on each foot surgically removed in order to fit into crazy stupid shoes for her daughter’s wedding. Rather than permitting her to wear the punishing stilettos, the surgery ended up consigning her to orthopedic footwear forever after.


For more on this subject, check out my Jimmy Choo revenge fantasy.

May 23 2011

Jimmy Choo revenge fantasy

Stiletto maker Jimmy Choo was sold yesterday for a whopping $790 million – three times the price its owners paid for the fancy cobbler four years ago. Apparently, many women remain eager to spend as much as $1,500 for footwear made famous by the Sex and The City foursome.

The company’s continuing good health is a humiliating reminder of my abject lack of business acumen when it comes to shoe fashion. I’ve been ineffectively predicting the demise of stilettos since they were invented, and yes, my antipathy does have something to do with a) the fact that I have my grandmother’s bunions (see page 241), and b) my belief that the wearing of pain-inducing, feet-crippling and get-away-negating stilettos is a self-imposed form of female enslavement.

It’s no accident that in many of the available photographs of women actually wearing four and five-inch heels (Hollywood red carpets excepted) the women in question are sitting down. (I’m just saying.) And I think the company’s customer base should sue the advertiser for the impression created by the image above which suggests that Jimmy Choo aficionados may be of below average intelligence. (Does it make sense to paint your toe nails while wearing shoes that make it impossible to get at half of them?)

With the publication of I Feel Great About My Hands, I’ve publicly confessed to a scenario I’d pay money to see…

In my fantasy, Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo—over 50 and having worn out the cushioning flesh on the soles of own their feet—are forced to wear a pair of their implausible creations for an entire evening. I imagine them discovering their car battery dead and their wallets inexplicably empty of serious cash or credit cards. As a result, Manny and Jimmy have to run three blocks—along cobble-stoned streets—to catch a bus. Every seat is taken, requiring them to stand for the 37-minute journey. Disoriented from the unaccustomed pain in their contorted metatarsals, they inadvertently disembark—five stops too early—and are forced to negotiate an additional nine ice-encrusted blocks…

(For the culmination of the fantasy, well, you’ll have to buy the book.)